The best-selling memoir Eat Pray Love recounts a woman's journey around the world in search of solace after a challenging divorce. In the author's travels, she looks to pursue pleasure while in Italy, devotion in India, and a balance between the two in Indonesia. The book has been so immensely popular that it was recently adapted into a movie starring Julia Roberts. In today's challenging economy, you may not have the money or the free time to chuck your day job and travel around the world for a year. But you can apply the principles of Eat Pray Love to your own investing game plan without leaving the comfort of your living room.

The virtue of sin
In the book's first section, author Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy to find pleasure through studying the Italian language and eating her way back to health. There is no shortage of folks who take their pleasure and leisure time seriously, which means that stocks that cater to these needs can be very profitable investments. One mutual fund which seeks to benefit from the "seedy" side of pleasure-seekers is the Vice Fund (FUND: VICEX), which invests in "sin stocks" that derive their revenue from alcohol, tobacco, or gaming. With a 1.78% expense ratio, the Vice Fund may be a bit pricey for most investors, but you can still profit from the types of names the fund owns.

For example, consumer-goods names Philip Morris (NYSE: PM) and Altria Group (NYSE: MO) are great examples of stocks that meet the fund's qualifications. Not only should both names produce well in a slow-growth economic environment, thanks to more inelastic demand for their products, but they should also hold up well if the economy happens to slip back into recession. And don't forget that each sports a hefty dividend yield -- 4.5% for Philip Morris and 6.1% for Altria.

Likewise, defense-related industrial stocks Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) also figure prominently in the portfolio. Both stocks sport price-to-earnings ratios meaningfully below that of their industry peers, while also paying shareholders above-average dividend yields. Sin stocks aren't for everyone, but there is quite a bit of money to be made from stocks that cater to the pleasure-seeking natures of our population.

A higher calling
In the next leg of her journey, Gilbert travels to India to study devotion at an ashram, or religious sanctuary. Fortunately, individuals with strong religious or social beliefs don't have to check their beliefs at the door when it comes to investing. For example, the Ave Maria line of mutual funds offers investments compatible with traditional Catholic belief systems. There are other religious- and socially screened funds available, but I think one of the best options is Neuberger Berman Socially Responsive (FUND: NBSRX).

This large-cap fund avoids stocks that operate in the alcohol, gaming, tobacco, or weapons industries, instead seeks out attractive names with socially responsible workplace and environmental policies. Right now, the tech sector is overweighted in the portfolio, including big names such as Yahoo! and Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU). I like the focus on tech here, since I think technology spending should rebound as the economy continues to recover. That means funds like this should do quite well down the road.

Many socially screened funds have failed to keep pace with the market, but Neuberger Berman Socially Responsive has certainly earned its place at the top of the heap. Over the past decade and a half, the fund has outpaced more than 80% of all large-blend funds with a 7% annualized return. If you like your investments with a side of conscience, consider adding this fund to your portfolio.

Keeping it in balance
Of course, a life devoted entirely to hedonistic pleasure or to self-denying devotional practices isn't the healthiest approach. So in the final portion of "Eat Pray Love," the author makes her way to Indonesia to try to find a way of life that balances the two. Balance is an important lesson to take to heart for investors as well, since few people succeed by investing entirely in risky, high-octane growth stocks or by playing it safe and sticking completely to risk-free Treasury bonds. If you want to bring some balance to your portfolio, consider a top-tier balanced, or hybrid, mutual fund such as Vanguard Wellington (FUND: VWELX).

Vanguard Wellington invests in a combination of stocks and bonds, making it appropriate for investors of all age ranges. On the stock side, management likes high-quality, financially stable names selling at low valuations that also offer up decent dividend yields. AT&T (NYSE: T) is a great example with its bargain-priced P/E of 12.6 and its solid 6.2% yield. As far as bonds go, the fund sticks mainly to high-quality corporate bonds to boost yield while keeping risk at a minimum. All in all, this is one of the better balanced funds around, especially seeing as Wellington has ranked in the top 6% of all funds in its category in the past 15 years. This is one of the few funds that really can offer investors the best of both worlds.

So even if you don't read the book or see the movie, you can take some important tips from the phenomenon that is Eat Pray Love. And maybe you can start saving up for your own trip around the world -- next year, of course.

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Amanda Kish is the Fool's resident fund advisor for the Rule Your Retirement investment newsletter. At the time of publication, she did not own any of the funds or companies mentioned herein. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains choice. The Fool owns shares of Altria Group. The Fool has a disclosure policy.